A New Program Turns Your Walls Into a Work of Art

Here at Sight Unseen, we’re not typically about #thatcontractlife; we’ve always been more interested in the things people have in their homes (and rare is the design workshop with a proper task chair in it). And so in a normal year, we wouldn’t have much reason to make a pilgrimage to Neocon, the Chicago-based expo for commercial interiors that begins next Monday.

This year, however, we’re tempted to get in touch with our midwestern roots for many reasons — not least because the idea of the “workplace” is in serious flux, and as its definition broadens, it paves the way for more designers than ever to be involved. At this year’s show, there’s a serious upsurge in the amount of emerging talent on view, from the undoubtedly killer exhibition Metropolis Magazine is putting together including SU faves Assembly, Herron, DAMM, and Steven Haulenbeek, to the new contract line by Uhuru, to the brand-new Designtex Bespoke Surfaces line, which taps more than 30 contemporary artists — many of whom are up-and-coming talents who live near Designtex’s Portland, Maine, manufacturing headquarters — to create imagery for custom surfaces in the built environment. In other words, to turn your walls in the ultimate work of art.

Designtex, if you remember, worked with our designers last month to create the most amazing bespoke murals during our Collective Design presentation. But that program represents just a fraction of what the company is capable of, wallcovering-wise. With the new program, a collection created by contemporary artists and photographers — with images representational to abstract, geometric to freeform, colorful to monochromatic — can be digitally printed onto 15 different substrates, including wallpaper, glass film, textiles, ceramic steel, decorative rigid panels, and magnetics. Those materials add a haptic texture to the equation, making the surfaces even more, well, bespoke. “Clients are more and more looking to develop a branded environment as an immersive experience, with artwork playing a more dominant role now that manufacturing practices allow for one-of-a-kind production,” Designtex explains.

The talents featured in the collection include Elizabeth Atterbury (whose work we’ve featured on SU before), Alisa Benfey (the designer who helped develop the murals for Collective), as well as a host of new talents like Meghan Brady, Will Sears, and Elizabeth Cecil (and old ones, like the late Charley Harper, whose work is seen in the installation above). Check it out if you’re in Chicago, and say a little prayer for the day when Designtex offers a Print All Over Me–style, print-your-own-pattern mass customization platform, as that can’t be too far off. 

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This post is sponsored by Designtex. Like everything at Sight Unseen, our partner content is carefully curated to make sure it’s of the utmost relevance to our readers.